Little Red, Traverse, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Barrowland Ballet
Natasha Gilmore (Director/Choreograher), Belinda McElhinney (Producer), Clare McNeill (Technical Stage Manager), Fiona Johnston (Stage Manager), Robert Alan Evans (Dramaturgy/Director), Kim Moore (Composition/Sound Design), Fred Pommerin (Set and Lighting Design), Alison Brown (Costume design)
Kai-Wen Chuang, Adrienne O'Leary, Vince Virr (performers), Claire Knight (Granny’s voice), Joy Sweeney (Little Red’s voice), Davey Anderson, Rosa Anderson, Milly Sweeney and Thomas Williams (Search party voices)
Running time

Who’s the creature that features most as the baddie in fairy tale? The big, bad wolf of course. In this radical re-telling of Charles Perrault’s original tale, Little Red Riding Hood, Glasgow based dance company Barrowland Ballet takes us on a seriously scary walk through the woods to meet the ‘biggest, baddest wolf’ of all. Be afraid, be very afraid!

The familiar narrative of a wee girl in a red cape setting out to visit her Granny who lives at the other side of a forest is a recognisable thread that runs through this thoroughly subverted interpretation. Narrating nuggets of the story with some new flourishes are the clear as a stream Scottish voices of the unseen Joy Sweeney and Claire Knight. We have Granny communicating with her granddaughter by balloon post and asking her to bring ‘the whisky that Mum keeps behind the bread bin’.

But the three dancers, Kai-Wen Chuang, Adrienne O'Leary and Vince Virr make this piece their own. Under Natasha Gilmore’s amazing choreography, they move as one with arms outstretched as they ‘stick to the path’ with the red hood tied tight. Other times they are individual acrobats and tumblers bringing some circus magic to the tale. Vince Virr stretches his claws like David Naughton’s brilliantly realised transition in the film An American Werewolf in London and their manifestation of the wolf’s digestive systems after eating Granny is scatologically hilarious. Mostly though, all three look as though they are enjoying every anarchic, mischievous minute.

Little Red plays with the ideas that none of us is one dimensional or bound by a single gender. We all have dark parts or conversely good parts inside as is shown in the morphing of the wolf to Granny who sits inside the vulpine Jonah accompanied by the song I’ve got you under my skin. That’s all part of the fantastic range of music from Kim Moore who provides high volume insistent rhythms along with light hearted tunes like Nena’s 99 Red Balloons and Sinatra’s You make me feel so young on a loop (or should that be loup?)

Fred Pommerin’s design of wooden chairs piled high creates a forest that turns cosy domesticity upside down with the wood reverting to its primal roots evoking a strange and sinister atmosphere. The grey fur backdrop is lit so that there’s no doubt as to what’s happening to poor old Granny in this dark and thoroughly enjoyable production with ingeniously versatile costumes from Alison Brown.

Barrowland Ballet takes you to the edge of danger with impish panache. There’s no saviour of an axeman in their forest. Instead, a strongly empowered Little Red. Aowww!

2nd – 4th June times vary age recommend 7-12